TIPS FOR SAFELY TRAVELING BY YOURSELF
When I start talking about a trip, "Who did you go with?" is usually one of the first questions to come up—and that bothers me. For many women, traveling alone is a bizarre notion. I wish it wasn't.
I wish more women got to experience the reward and pride that comes from navigating a new place on your own. The biggest concern (obviously) is safety. Yes, traveling alone as a woman can be dangerous—if you don't take care. But there are steps you can take to stay safe when traveling by yourself.
Research the hell out of your destination
The first thing you should do when planning a trip is research—whether that means Googling your uncertainties or asking a local acquaintance what to do and what areas to avoid. It's important to know what you're getting yourself into, so you can plan accordingly and take what precautions you need to. Doing things like saving local emergency numbers in your phone and planning your route beforehand are proactive ways to stay safe when you're out adventuring.
Pro tip: You can download Google Maps offline areas to navigate when you can't use data or WiFi. I wouldn't have gotten anywhere in Ireland without this feature.
Pay attention to reviews
I don't book or buy anything without filing through reviews. You have to take them with a grain of salt—people like to complain for the sake of complaining—but you can get a good (often brutally honest) idea of how safe an accommodation is or what a tour is really like, versus how it's advertised.
Share your trip information
Make sure at least one person knows where you'll be during your trip and check in periodically. If you're traveling overseas, it's a good idea to send pictures of your passport and the credit cards you'll be taking to someone reliable, just in case something goes missing. I prefer emailing that information, so you can get ahold of it if you need to.
Keep your valuables hidden
Handling your money in public isn't just an impropriety, it's also a target for pickpockets. When traveling, I only carry what I think I'll need for the day and keep the rest of my cash and passport locked away wherever I'm staying. Also, keep in mind what kind of bag you use. As convenient as backpacks and big purses are, they flag you as a tourist and are easy to pickpocket. I'm a fan of cross-body purses—they're inconspicuous and you can keep them on your person at all times.
Don't put yourself in dangerous situations
If a situation feels off—trust your gut. When I was camping by myself at Joshua Tree, a man (also camping alone) came up to me and invited me over for a beer by the fire. As relaxing as that sounded, I wasn't about to go sit in a secluded campsite at night with a strange man. I also slept with my pocket knife under my pillow that night, for good (read: excessive) measure. Always stay aware of your surroundings and don't put yourself in danger for the sake of being adventurous.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself
My first solo trip was a weekend in Munich, where my solitude stood out among the tables of camaraderie in the brewery houses—so much so that every one I went into, a group of people invited me to sit and drink with them. Had I not been alone, I never would have met such interesting, worldly people and definitely wouldn't have had as good a time.